Monday 14th May 2012


Two-seats, a roll cage and full harnesses. Pretty hardcore for an only car...

Name:Gavin Blackwell
Car: Renaultsport Megane R26.R
Owned since:June 2009

Previously owned:
Renaultsport Megane R26, Renaultsport Megane 225 F1, various Jeep Cherokees, Subaru Legacy Turbo, Peugeot 405 Mi16, Alfa 164, Lancia Beta Spyder, MG Midget, Fiat X1/9.

Why I bought it:
I had the chance to try one at Brands Hatch on a Renaultsport trackday and it just felt born for the role; to be honest it made my R26 feel a little flabby. I was also seduced by the fact that it's also so rare and special, being the product of proper motorsport know-how and not just a marketing ploy to shift metal.

What I wish I'd known:
There's almost nothing about the car that has caught me unawares (at least in a negative way). The car has, in fact, proved true to its promise, and then some. No nasty surprises at all.

Things I love:
The rarity of the car and its credibility in the paddock and on circuit still gives me a real buzz, but it's also a great car just to drive. The playful, throttle-adjustable handling and wonderful balance make it fun, while the, excellent body control and damping, faithful front end, turn-in and traction help make it devastatingly quick. The brakes are brilliant, too, especially now I have a set of Performance Friction 330mm front discs fitted. Basically, it's a loyal and trusted friend, always on-side and willing to help out when my ambition has overtaken my talent.

Then there are all the genuine motorsport trimmings: carbon buckets and bonnet, harnesses, cage, titanium exhaust, polycarbonate windows, red wheels (OK perhaps that last one isn't quite so 'genuine motorsport'). Really makes you feel special, as do the induction noise and crackles on overrun.

What's really amazing is, beyond all the performance stuff, learning the ins and outs of the R888 Toyos etc, the car's depth of character and ability to perform normal functions - ie the weekly shop, motorway runs in the rain - is brilliant.

Things I hate:
The lack of rear wash wipe and heated window can be a chore at times, likewise the impossibility of just hopping in and out with those seats and harnesses. And I don't particularly enjoy having to put on new tyres every 5,000 to 6,000 miles.

Tyres aside, it's actually quite easy on the bank account. Whilst the Megane is my only car, I don't use it for a daily commute and my mileage is around 7,000 a year. I get the car serviced every year at Toomey Renault in Basildon for around £230 and they collect and deliver to my door, which suits me. I attend around three to four trackdays a year and seem to get through a set of tyres every nine months, at £800 or so a go. Redline Tuning, a local motorsport specialist, service the brakes for me and also fitted the upgraded discs and stainless steel braided hoses. I have Ferodo DS2500 pads front and rear and use Motul 600 fluid, which gets bled thoroughly and pretty regularly. Insurance is around £400.

Where I've been:
Part of the joy of this car is that it opens up plenty of opportunity for incredibly varied motoring adventures. A road trip to Monte Carlo, taking in the Route Napoleon, the Col De Turini and the Col De La Bonnette. Two track days to Spa with Renaultsport. Dicing with a mate at the Bedford Autodrome and Snetterton, and discovering how evenly matched a track-prepared E30 M3 and an R26.R are. Driving home 30 miles in a snow storm last February, seeing how far I could get before resorting to the snow socks in the boot and - in the end - making it all the way home using just the R888s (I don't think I would have got far without the LSD doing its thing though!).

What next?
Maybe some more power, nothing too much as I don't want to lose the front-end traction and overstress any other bits of the drivetrain, but 260-270hp would be nice!

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Author: Danny Milner
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